| JD(U) supporters march on a street in Patna on Sunday. Picture Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Life came to a standstill in the city on Sunday because of the JD(U)’s shutdown in support of their demand for special status to the state.
No city buses were on streets. A few autos plied.
Most marketplaces, including Boring Road, Boring Canal Road, Alpana Market, Dakbungalow and New Market, were closed. So were shopping hubs like P&M Mall, Pantaloons and Reliance Trends. It was business as usual at the wholesale vegetable market at Mithapur, though.
Several petrol pumps were closed till the afternoon. Residents missed out on the weekend movie fun this Sunday as four theatres in the city — Cinepolis, Mona, Elphinstone and Regent Fun Cinema — remained closed.
The shutdown, claimed by Nitish to be held on the lines of Gandhi’s Satyagraha ideology, did not get support from all sections of the society, though. Several traders were unhappy over the strike.
“Traders’ fraternity never supports any kind of closure of business activity for political stunts. But we had to keep our shops closed today (Sunday) because we feared the strike supporters might damage our establishments. We believe that causing financial losses to the traders with strike like this in no way would help the state develop. If the chief minister wants special status for the state, he can pursue it through constitutional methods instead of resorting to practices that cause inconvenience to common people,” said Sanjay Kumar Singh, chairperson, Boring Road Shopkeepers’ Association.
Not all traders were, however, against the shutdown. Rajesh Kumar “Dablu”, the president of Mauryalok Shopkeepers’ Association, said: “All members of the association voluntary agreed to keep their shops closed in support of the special status demand for Bihar.”
The operations of around 300 minibuses under the city service were not suspended voluntarily.
“The association did not extend any formal support to the strike but we had to keep the buses off the streets because there was no other option with us. Had a few bus owners plied their vehicles, the bandh enforcers might have damaged them,” said Umesh Sinha, the general secretary of Nagar Seva Minibus Owners’ Association.
Most of the 300 shops at Mauryalok Complex were closed till the evening. After dusk, a few opened.
The hangout zones in the city, which remain chock-a-block on weekends, wore deserted look on Sunday. Footfall was low at Rajdhani Vatika. A few young couples were seen inside the park but hardly anyone was there around the swings for children.
The scenario was the same at Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, commonly called Patna zoo. The footfall was extremely low in the first-half of the day. The figures improved a bit after 2pm.
Commuting in and outside the city was a major hassle throughout the day.
“There was almost no traffic movement on the Patna-Hajipur route. Consequently, very few of the north Bihar-bound buses, including those to Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi and Chhapra, could leave from Mithapur bus stand. As a result, many people who had come to the city by trains and were supposed to travel further by bus got stranded here,” said Vishal Tiwari, manager, Vaishali Travels.
Sources at the airport claimed that the tariff for taxis was a tad higher till late afternoon.
“Most taxi drivers were not taking people outside Patna till late afternoon apprehending getting stuck in the bandh. Several taxi drivers charged around Rs 600 for going to places in the town area, which normally costs Rs 300-400,” said a source.